Voodoo booboo

24 12 2010

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

Beautiful, fortune-telling Solitaire is the prisoner and tool of Mr Big: master of fear, artist in crime and Voodoo Baron of Death. But James Bond has no time for hocus pocus. He knows that this criminal heavy hitter is also a top SMERSH operative and a real threat. More than that, after tracking him through the jazz joints of Harlem, to the everglades and on to the Caribbean, 007 has realized that Big is one of the most dangerous men he has ever faced…

It’s a pretty grim and violent chase at times but is reasonably suspenseful in places. The book is a world away from the Roger Moore movie but still contains some classic Bond elements. Some of the less attractive features are the casual, almost incessant, racism and the typically dismissive attitude towards female characters (in this case there is only one I think and you might be able to guess from the cover the particular approach taken).

Very much of its time and, notwithstanding the above criticisms, an entertaining enough read. But a bit disappointed there was no speedboat chase.


5 10 2010

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

Remember Le Chiffre, Sir Hugo Drax, Rosa Klebb, Dr No? Now meet James Bond’s seventh adversary, the man who has planned the ‘Crime de la Crime’ – Goldfinger!

Good fun Bond stuff this and surprised to see how faithful the movie was to the original. The novel Bond is a rather less attractive and much colder figure than the screen representations of him. But the story is a pretty gripping yarn with the exception of the game of golf between Bond and Goldfinger (during which the latter cheats frequently and is only beaten by better cheating by Bond and his caddie) where every single hole, all 18 of them, is detailed. Really extremely dull passage.

The most bizarre element though is the representation of Pussy Galore as a rough and tough lesbian gangster (a bit different from the film) who, and sorry to spoil this for anyone reading the book in future, is converted to heterosexuality by the sheer manliness of our hero. Hilarious.

Leaving aside these two elements, it’s still worth a read though.

Going downhill fast

4 01 2010

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming

When Bond saves a beautiful, reckless girl from self-destruction, he finds himself with a lead on Blofeld. In the snow-bound fastness of his Alpine base, Blofeld is conducting research that could threaten the safety of the world. To thwart the evil genius, Bond must get himself and the vital information he has gathered out of the base and keep away from SPECTRE’s agents. Which may require the help of the rescued maiden who can handle herself at high speed…

The usual heady mix of high octane chases, upper class hanging out and top secret fun and games. Despite the endemic sexism of the writing (“rescued maiden” indeed) and some dull casino passages and ski equipment descriptions it is still a pretty exciting and fast-paced yarn. Although the Blofeld plot for world domination is not terribly well articulated it does seem to anticipate more contemporary fears about bio-terrorism.

Diamonds are (not quite) forever

12 08 2009

Diamonds are forever by Ian Fleming

“Where Bond goes, trouble is a fellow-traveller”


Entertaining enough. As might be guessed from the cover, this is not the most literary of novels but the plot fairly rattles along and all of the elements of standard Bond fare are present, including some rather unfortunate casual sexist and racist observations by our hero which really do grate.

2 star

Royale with cheese

8 01 2009

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming


Entertaining and remarkably suspenseful in places. Important to put Daniel Craig out of mind and to be enthusiastic about Baccarat (the card game as opposed to 70s disco double act). Also need suspension of horror at outrageous 1953 sexism. For example:

This was just what he [Bond] had been afraid of. These blithering women who thought they could do a man’s work. Why the hell couldn’t they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave the men’s work to the men.

Apart from all that, a right good read.

3 star

Dr Yes

6 07 2008

Dr No by Ian Fleming
Dr No

Really very good indeed. Been a long time since I’ve read any Fleming but, despite some slightly stilted prose in places, this really is an exciting roller-coaster ride in the classic Bond tradition. Much more hard-edged than the movie representation of 007 too. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, Honey (famously played by Ursula Andress in the film) is a much more interesting, rounded and complex character here.

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